The HSE told parents of children attending First Steps in Midleton the infection is now being treated as “an outbreak investigation” following reports of diarrhoeal illnesses in more babies.
The HSE received official confirmation of the first case on Wednesday. It is understood a baby tested positive. On foot of this, all 85 children and 15 staff who attend the Mill Rd crèche must now be tested.
Yesterday the HSE distributed kits to parents for collection of two stool samples. The samples will have to be microbiologically tested at the National VTEC (Verotoxigenic E.coli) reference laboratory in Dublin. In the meantime, the parents have been warned by the HSE that their child should not attend any childcare facility until both samples test clear of infection.
Staff have also been asked to refrain from working with children.
One parent whose child attends the crèche said environmental health officers were “happy with hygiene and food preparation at the premises”. He said the strain of VTEC infection has not been identified.
First Steps, which caters for children from three months and which also runs an after-school service, was shut temporarily on Tuesday as a precaution against the spread of VTEC. It is likely to remain closed until late next week. The source of infection has not yet been identified. A spokesperson for Cork County Council said yesterday that if the source of infection was the public water system, they would have been notified by the HSE.
“The HSE did not notify us, therefore there is no problem with the public water supply,” said the spokesperson.
While the majority of cases get better with no treatment, VTEC can, in extreme cases, cause kidney failure. The main symptom is diarrhoea, which can be bloody in about half of cases.
For a human to be infected with VTEC, the bug has to be swallowed, which can happen by consuming contaminated food or drink. The bug can then be passed from human to human.